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CITY TRIBUNE

Go ahead given for 200 new Oranmore homes

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An Bord Pleanála has given the go ahead for the construction of more than 200 new homes in Oranmore, after ruling that previous concerns about the presence of a protected species of goose have been overcome.

Arlum Ltd, which is controlled by developer Padraic Rhatigan of JJ Rhatigan, applied for permission last April to build the 212 houses and apartments on the 21.5-acre site at Moneyduff and Oranhill, just 500 metres from the town.

The €50 million project is being progressed under Strategic Housing Development legislation, which permits applications for more than 100 homes to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála (following initial consultations with the local authority) in an effort to expedite major housing projects.

A similar application was rejected by the Board last October on environmental grounds – that a nearby site was possibly used by the protected Greenland White-fronted Goose and ruled the development would contravene the conservation and preservation of European designated environmental sites and species of interest.

The latest application included monthly bird surveys from October to March, and there were no records of such species either on the site or surrounding areas.

“The purpose of the monthly winter bird surveys to demonstrate beyond reasonable scientific doubt, that the site of the proposed development and areas immediately surrounding it do not provide suitable habitat and are not used by Greenland white-fronted goose.

“The surveys also demonstrate that the site and surrounding fen is not significantly used by any of the bird species that are among the qualifying interests of the Inner Galway Bay SPA (Special Protection Area) either and that no adverse effects on any of these designated sites are predicted,” the second application read.

It added that an updated Natura Impact Statement included as part of the application and concluded “that the proposed development, individually or in combination with other plans or projects, will not adversely affect the integrity of any European [designated] Site”.

The proposal includes 74 four-bed homes, 70 three-beds, 12 two-beds and 56 two-bed own-door duplex units, as well as a one-storey childcare facility and a total of 409 car parking spaces.

There will be dedicated walkways through parkland areas, a children’s playground and landscaping around the preserved site of Moneyduff Castle.

The development also involves the construction of a north/south link between Coill Clocha and Orancourt/Oranhill via the Oranmore Distributor Road.

A number of submissions on the plans were made by members of the public, who raised concerns about traffic safety and congestion; suburban sprawl; impact on ecological sustainability and Rinville Park and pressure on existing schools and other infrastructure in the area.

A report was forwarded to the Board by the County Council which included minutes from a meeting of the Athenry/Oranmore Municipal District Council which expressed general support for the project, but also raised concerns about traffic; the absence of a playground; the quantum of housing proposed and the need for affordable housing.

In her recommendation that the Board approve the application, with a 7-year life span attached, Planning Inspector Lorraine Dockery said: “The previous reasons for refusal on this site have been overcome. I consider that the proposal is such that this would be an attractive place in which to reside.

“I do not have issue in relation to transport and consider that the provision of the road network [under a previous planning permission and proposed to be delivered under this application] would aid in opening up these lands and creating improved connections for the wider community,” she said.

The developers will be transferring 12 two-bed apartments, 3 two-bed terraced houses and 6 three-bed terraced or semi-detached houses to the Council to meeting its social housing requirements.

CITY TRIBUNE

Salthill will NOT have one-way traffic under new cycleway plans

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Salthill will not be reduced to one-way traffic under plans for the new cycleway along the Promenade, following the intervention of the National Transport Authority in the controversy.

It was confirmed yesterday (Thursday) that a design is now being considered to “ensure the widest support possible”.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council – which recently created cycleways in Dublin – will now be involved in the design process.

Last September, city councillors voted in favour of creating a two-way segregated cycle lane along the coastal side of the Prom from Grattan Road to Blackrock as a six-month trial.

However, it subsequently emerged that this would involve introducing one-way traffic along the Prom, with the outbound lane closed to make way for bicycles – this information has not been presented to councillors as they decided to vote on the cycle lane without any prior discussion.

Galway West TD and Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton, subsequently asked the National Transport Authority (NTA) to intervene in the row.

“As a result of a meeting held last week between the NTA and the City Council, I can confirm that both parties are working to review proposals that will meet the objectives of the [City Council] motion while also looking to retain two-way traffic,” she said.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Criminal Assets Bureau targets two Galway families

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Garda raids at seven locations on the east side of the city earlier this week were aimed at ‘hitting in the pocket’ two families alleged to be heavily involved in the drugs trade, the Galway City Tribune has learned.

Close to 100 personnel from different Garda and Customs specialist units were involved in the searches of residences in the Castle Park and Radharc na Gréine estates early on Tuesday morning.

According to Garda sources, they are confident that the raids – which also involved the seizure of a 191 Audi car worth an estimated €45,000+ in the Garryowen area of Limerick – will lead to arrests over the coming weeks and months.

Files have already started to be prepared for forwarding to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) in relation to the seizures on Tuesday which included €22,000 in cash; £4,450 in sterling; a range of high-value designer goods, as well as the freezing of €17,000 in a bank account.

Searches carried out prior to this week’s operation by specialist Garda units had resulted in the seizure of €18,680 in cash and the freezing of bank accounts to the value of €66,000. Two Rolex watches were also seized – these items have a value which can range between €10,000 and €100,000 each.

The strategy behind the CAB/Garda crackdown on illegal drugs gangs is based on striking at the finances of the local drug barons – as well as the seizure of cash/goods and the freezing of bank accounts, Revenue are closely involved in the ‘monitoring of income’ of the gang members with a view to issuing substantial tax bills.

Detective Superintendent Shane Cummins, who is in charge of crime operations in the Galway Garda Division, said this week’s searches were part of an ongoing operation aimed at tackling the sale and supply of illegal drugs across the city and county.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read more on the raids and Garda Asset Profilers, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cyberattack leaves HSE in the dark on children’s mental health in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The full extent of the waiting list for community mental health services for children is unknown because of the cyberattack on the HSE.

There were 48 young people in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon on a waiting list last March for the community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), according to the HSE.

Most of them were waiting less than 12 weeks, and seven of them were waiting between 12 and 26 weeks.

This is relatively good compared to other Community Healthcare Organisations in other parts of the country – the West made up just 2% of the 2,384 children nationally who were waiting for CAMHS referrals.

But the HSE has conceded that the data is not up to date – and so the full extent of waiting list in the West is not known.

“As a result of the recent cyberattack on HSE systems, the latest set of full data for the number of children waiting to be seen by CAMHS is from March 2021,” said Jim Ryan, Assistant National Director of the National Mental Health Services.

Mr Ryan was responding to a Parliamentary Question submitted by Galway West TD, Noel Grealish (Ind) and supplied to the Galway City Tribune.

He said that CAMHS provides specialist mental health care to children aged up to 18, “who have met the threshold for a diagnosis of moderate to severe mental health disorder that requires the input of a multi-disciplinary mental health teams”.

(Photo: The CAMHS unit at Merlin Park)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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